March 17th, 2006
Salvia farinacea ‘Indigo Spires’

Salvia farinacea Indigo Spires
Salvia farinacea ‘Indigo Spires’

The last nine months or so, I’ve neglected the garden. Some plants, like the roses and irises, really show it. Other really tough plants have surprised and encouraged me. This spring I’ve been very thankful for Acanthus mollis. Auralea japonica, Rhaphiolepis indica, Tacoma stans, and Salvia farinacea. Without them, I’d have no garden at all this year.

Yesterday I noticed a the first flower of the season on Salvia farinacea ‘Indigo Spires’. Thanks to the water that sprays over the fence when my neighbors water their lawn, my salvias have formed nice mounds of green this spring. I decided I should finally cut off the long arching stems from last year. I should have cut them way back last fall.

One advantage of my lazy housekeeping is that salvias self-layer and root wherever the joints touch soil. In my garden, plants die every year and new ones replace them. I let them grow where they’re happiest and they’ve arranged themselves around the cedar elm in the back of the stump garden. I do absolutely nothing for these plants except mulch them with leaves in the fall and prune them back once a year.

Salvia farinacea Indigo Spires

Gardeners in Austin are typically crazy for salvias. They come in many varieties, sizes, and colors. In addition to being heat-loving, salvias have the reputation of being deer-resistant. (I can’t say since there are no deer downtown). One drawback I’ve heard, however, is that some salvias dislike Austin’s alkaline soil. I haven’t noticed that problem either in my garden or around town. I’ve tried a couple of other salvias, but Salvia farinacea has proven the most carefree in my central Texas garden. One plant, eleven years. That’s got to be a record in my garden. Only the plumbago, which I bought and planted on the same day, has done as well.

By the way, I’ve had a hard time trying to peg down exactly what type of salvia I’m growing. When I bought my one plant in 1995, I wrote down Salvia farinacea ‘Indigo Spires’. Apparently the salvias cross-pollinate easily and some sites list ‘Indigo Spires’ as a hybrid, not a cultivar. As for common names, I’ve found both mealy cup sage and mealy blue sage and even plain mealy sage.

Zanthan Gardens History

Friday March 10, 1995
Bought Indigo spires, plumbago, and a small Mexican plum tree at Barton Springs Nursery.

Sunday March 19, 1995
Planted Indigo spires.

Sunday December 29, 1996
The ‘Indigo Spires’ died back in the freeze. I cut it back leaving 10 inches of stem. I think I should move it to a sunnier location.

Sunday January 11, 1998
I was going to move the ‘Indigo Spires’, but it seems to have a plan to move itself. Long branches that had arched toward the sunlight have taken root.

December 29, 1998
They ‘Indigo Spires’ died back this year, although after the first day of the freeze, they looked like they had survived.

Saturday January 15, 2000
Cut back the ‘Indigo Spires’, fed (with superphosphate) and mulched. This plant has self-propagated and spread toward the sunshine, creating its own bed.

November 25, 2002
The ‘Indigo Spires’ has been blooming well for about a month. I took a series of digiCam photos of it today.

January 18, 2003
The ‘Indigo Spires’ seem to have survived last night’s hard freeze.

January 11, 2004
We’ve had no hard freeze yet, so ‘Indigo Spires’ is still flowering through the winter.

February 23, 2005
The 2004 Christmas freeze meant no flowers in January this year. But the plants are up and running.

April 20, 2006
The salvia ‘Indigo Spires’ is larger and blooming better than ever, probably because it is getting extra water when my neighbors water their lawn.

Salvia farinacea Indigo Spires
2006-04-20. Salvia farinacea ‘Indigo Spires’. Austin, TX.

by M Sinclair Stevens

6 Responses to post “Salvia farinacea ‘Indigo Spires’”

  1. From M2 (Austin):

    Oh, yeah, that’s one of my favorites. I’ve see some around that have white “subflowers” in the purple sheathes. Very nifty.

    These have a blotch of white on the lip. I need to try to take a better close-up. You might be seeing the Salvia farinacea ‘Texas Violet’ or Salvia leucantha (Mexican bush sage). Too bad your front yard doesn’t get more sunlight; we could include one in the design. Mine don’t flower as well as they might because they’re in the shade of the cedar elm. — mss

  2. From Annie in Austin/Diva Glinda:

    Salvia farinacea was one of my favorite plants in Illinois, but we bought them as annuals in six-packs and put them out for the summer. Once in awhile they’d reseed, but couldn’t live through the winter.

    I planted several ‘Indigo Spires’ in my previous Austin garden and liked them. I always thought the other parent of the X was guaranitica, but the Brooklyn Botanic Garden calls it Salvia X ‘Indigo Spires’, and says the parents are Salvia farinacea and Salvia longispicata. Hortus 3 has 4 columns of Salvia, but doesn’t list longispicata or ‘Indigo Spires’.

    There was a large blue-violet Salvia growing with abandon at this house when we came – it doesn’t look quite like my other ‘Indigo Spires’, and I thought it might be guaranitica. Whatever it is, you can pop up a chunk with a trowel and just jam it anywhere and it will bloom a. give flowers.

    Annie, I guess we could say “A salvia by any name is still one tough plant.” Thanks for doing my research for me. I love learning from other people. — mss

  3. From bill:

    I’ve planted “indigo spires” a couple times but it never returned for a second season in either case.

    I’ve got some regular salvia farinacea which is very dependable. It blooms prolifically but it is pale blue and not very dramatic.

    My favorite salvia is greggii. I have it in about five different colors, including a dark purple variety called “grape.”

  4. From bill:

    Oh I have to take that back. My really favorite salvia is regna. It is a tall plant with a very woody stem an. bright red flowers. It doesn’t even leaf out until summer and then it flowers from August until frost.

  5. From George - Arlington, Tx.:

    I bought several Salvia plants and several died, and the few left; I am wondering if I should re-pot to keep till spring. Please advise. Or should I prune them as suggested above.
    p.s. Someone gave me 20 pentas that were in the ground. Does anyone know how to winter them in pots and what kind of care is needed? Do I cut the flowers off for the winter?

  6. From salvia zone:

    Wonderful post! Salvia farinacea ‘Indigo Spires’ is a small plant which has used in the many ways . I know that Salvia mostly used in the smoke .It has the maximum height of three feet .Thanks for sharing the information .